James Vaccaro

You may have heard it before from family, friends, neighbors or their children graduating from High School, College and Graduate School – why would I ever want to work for a bank? We hear that Banks are too traditional, not progressive, nor innovative.  “Bankers are driven primarily by regulation and Bankers present themselves as professionals unwilling to take risks or think creatively”.

Shall I go on?
We’ve read everything that we can get our hands on about preferences of Millennials entering the workforce. We’ve been advised that they exhibit a different set of professional values than the current workforce. They are attracted to companies where their work has a purpose and where they are able to make a meaningful impact. Millennials want companies where there are continued learning opportunities. Millennials are socially aware and responsible and want a company that ascribed to the same value system. They want engagement and job satisfaction.

With thousands of people who will search for jobs in the coming year, Glassdoor, a popular jobs   and recruiting company, announced its annual 50 Best Jobs in America for 2018 list. Not surprisingly, “Banker” was not on the list.

I find it quite interesting and more than a bit disappointing that those looking for jobs or entering the workforce don’t consider applying to banks when establishing a career path. I counted, and of the top 50 best jobs on the Glassdoor  list, a minimum of 35 of those jobs either reside directly or are embodied in primary career functions  in banks! One coveted position was “Compliance Manager”. Another career choice was “Marketing Manager”. These positions joined “Facilities Manager”, “Human Resources Manager”, “Database Administrator”, and even Business Development Manager as a “best job”.

Millennials want learning opportunities.
The banking industry is always evolving whether a result of changing customer preferences, regulations or even technology and cybersecurity challenges. Working in our industry is anything but static. To keep up, bankers attend seminars and conferences and many banks have an education and training department.  With ongoing change comes ongoing learning opportunities.

Millennials want their jobs to be meaningful.
Millennials, when looking for meaningful jobs, often gravitate to jobs in healthcare. Listed in the Best Jobs are Nursing Practitioner, Occupational Therapist and Physician Assistant. Yet a Millennial looking for a meaningful job would do well working for a bank. Banks, indeed, very much represent the “healthcare of finance”.  It’s meaningful to help someone get their own home. It’s meaningful to help protect the banking public from cybersecurity attacks. It’s meaningful to help stop money laundering efforts and possible human trafficking.

Social awareness is a top consideration for choosing a job.
One of the most quoted characteristics of Millennials is that they are socially aware. Every day, bankers get involved in the communities they serve. Whether teaching financial literacy classes, helping to build affordable homes, serving lunches to the homeless or conducting a toy drive, bankers are an integral component of the health of the community. Bankers are neighbors reaching out to neighbors. They become board directors for community based organizations; finance and budget advisors for schools and houses of worship; providers of financial support through Foundations; and cheerleaders for community improvement efforts. Millennials would certainly appreciate our social awareness as an industry.

Engagement and Job Satisfaction go hand and hand.
A banking career requires engagement – with peers, regulators, customers and the community. Every day, bankers interact with their peers – in a branch office or out in the marketplace. Disciplines intersect when an employee on the front line sees that a customer needs help with retirement planning and calls in the expert. It happens when an employee in the marketing department gets help from IT to create a clean CIF. Everyone wins! I can go on and on because it happens in every branch and department every day.

Now the challenge is to convert their thinking and get the word out
As you begin attracting and interacting with Millennials and your new hires, remember that NJ Bankers has many resources for keeping them on track with their goals and aspirations.  Learning opportunities are probably the most obvious. Last year, the Association hosted 14 conferences, 22 seminars, and 86 webinars on everything from human resources management to enterprise risk management.

NJ Bankers also offers professional accreditations including the CLE, CPE, HRCI, ACAMS and CRCM so employees can certify their experience and knowledge. 

The NJ Bankers Leadership Academy is a resource for developing emerging leaders, your front line potential and Boards of Directors.

The Association has 34 different committees covering most of the critical functions of our banks. Committee members network with peers and discuss common issues. I encourage you to promote committee membership to your employees.

With all the professional development resources available; the commitment to improve the communities we serve; the reputation of the industry for making dreams come true, we have the ingredients that will attract the best and brightest. I certainly hope to see “banker” on the list next year.